Medicare and Diabetes

Does Medicare pay for diabetes treatment? How about diabetic supplies? Will my Medicare plan pay for insulin? How can I save money on my diabetic prescription drugs?

If you have diabetes, you need a good Medicare plan that will cover most of your out of pocket costs for care and allows you the freedom to choose your own doctor. Once you find a doctor that can help you regulate your sugar levels, you don’t need to be forced into changing doctors every few years.

This means finding a good Medicare supplement (Medigap) plan you can keep as long as you live. With over 170 different Medigap plans in Georgia, we can help you find the one that fits your needs and budget.

Instant GA Medigap quotes online. No waiting. We never sell your information.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

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Medicare and Diabetes

If your diabetes has been under control for most of your life, consider yourself fortunate. I have friends that are diabetic, both type I and type II. Some have lived most of their life without major issues. Others have not.diabetic

Consider this. According to the Diabetes Care Project

  • 26 million people in the US have diabetes
  • 79 million have “pre-diabetes”, 7 million have UNDIAGNOSED diabetes
  • More than 90% of diabetics are type II and obesity contributed to most of those cases
  • The US spends $174 million each year to treat diabetics; $119 million in direct health care costs
  • $1 out of every $3 spent by Medicare is to cover the cost of care for diabetes
  • Diabetics have medical expenditures that are more than 2x that of non-diabetics
  • The average annual cost of care for diabetics is $13,700 with $7,900 of that tied directly to the disease
  • The costs of treating diabetes rose 41% from 2007 to 2012

The longer you have diabetes, the greater chance you have of incurring high medical costs and complications. This is not the time to manage your illness and out of pocket costs with a Medicare Advantage plan.

 

Medicare Coverage forDiabetes Treatment

Original Medicare Part B covers the cost of testing equipment and supplies, insulin pumps and therapeutic shoes.

Part B also covers regular screening, diabetes self management training, nutrition therapy services, A 1c and glaucoma testing and much more. Check out Publication 11022 for more details.

medicare diabetesOral medication and self injecting insulin (not for a pump) are covered by Medicare Part D.

Don’t get sucked into the deals that promise free diabetic supplies. If you get an unsolicited call offering FREE diabetic supplies, hang up. Diabetes Health has this to say.

Scammers often pose as federal employees or workers representing legitimate diabetes associations. They’re looking for Medicare and Social Security numbers, as well as other financial information, that they can use fraudulently on their own behalf or sell to criminal syndicates.

Fraudsters that actually do send diabetes supplies send supplies that are inferior in quality, and then turn around and fraudulently bill Medicare for the order. “Free” supplies offered include glucose meters, diabetic test strips, and lancets, as well as such items as heating pads, lift seats, foot aids, or braces.

If you get such a call, immediately hang up and call the fraud hotline (1-800-HHS- TIPS, 1-800-447-8477)

 

Medicare and Prescription Drugs

The weakest link in the Medicare program is Part D, the prescription drug plan. Nowhere is it more obvious than when it comes to covering the cost of diabetic drugs.

Insulin can be very expensive, especially if you use a pen instead of a needle. The NovoLog patient assistance program can be a financial lifesaver for those who qualify.

Other PAP’s (Patient Assistance Programs) are another option.

We will review PAP’s in more detail in a future post.

 

Don’t Pay Too Much for Your Medicare Supplement Plan

Almost every day we talk to people who have bought the wrong Medicare plan for their needs, are paying too much, or both.

We recently compared plans for a lady who lived in zip code 31630, was turning 65 and going on Medicare. After talking with her friends she had decided to buy plan F from either Blue Cross or United Healthcare (through AARP). She was told that plan F  “pays everything” (which is true) and that she should go with a big carrier that will pay all her claims.woman shaking fist

Of course no one told her that ALL the carriers pay 100% of the contractual claims approved by Medicare. The normal claim process is your doctor files with Medicare, Medicare approves the claim, your supplement plan pays their portion.

A routine claim will take a couple of weeks with Medicare and about another week with the Medigap carrier.

Any doctor that participates in Medicare will also accept ANY Medigap plan, regardless of the issuing carrier.

Blue was going to charge this woman $168 per month. She could save a few dollars with the AARP/UHC plan F for $166.

But she can save even more by using a carrier I represent that will pay her claims in the same manner as Blue and UHC but with a monthly premium of $126 per month. That $40 per month savings adds up quickly!

Maybe she should consider new friends.

Better yet, introduce me to her friends so they can save money too.

Medicare shop and compare

Diabetes can be expensive. Let us show you a number of ways to minimize your out of pocket costs.

 

#MedicareDiabetes #Insulin  #DiabeticSupplies  #MedicareSupplement #MedicareAdvantage

Top 5 Benefits of Walking

The benefits of walking can be tremendous, especially if you are sedentary. Baby boomers like myself may not be as active as we once were. We can make excuses like a lack of time, the weather is bad, or you just don’t feel like it. walking_way_to_health

The results are the same.

You aren’t moving enough.

You don’t have to join a gym or buy equipment or fancy clothes. When you are 60+ and out walking no one really cares what you are wearing.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, over the past 20 years the number of people who walk on a regular basis has dropped by 42%. During that same time frame obesity has increased by 40%.

 

Number one benefit of walking

Each of us are motivated by different things, so the number one benefit of walking for me may not be the same for you. For some their motivation is to lose weight. Others may want to reduce the risk of disease like diabetes, cancer or heart ailments. Your desire to walk may be so you can enjoy time with your grandchildren.

Regardless of your reason, pick some area of your life where you want to improve and make that your primary goal.

Healthy people spend less money on medication and trips to the doctor. Some medical conditions like type II diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure can be reversed with regular exercise, including the simple act of walking on a daily basis.

Saving money is always good, especially for those on a fixed income. We save our clients an average of $450 per year in Medigap premiums and another $1,000 in out of pocket drug costs.

That adds up!

 

My story

I am a baby boomer. Born in 1950. Twenty years ago when our son was pursuing his Eagle Scout award we went hiking and camping a lot.

Frankly, outdoor camping never appealed to me. My idea of roughing it was staying in a Day’s Inn. A meal cooked over a campfire was a hot dog on a stick followed by roasted marshmallows for desert.

walking manOnce he graduated from scouting neither one of us went camping or hiking again.

I gained about 15 pounds since that time.

OK, maybe it was more like 25.

For a 64 year old man I am in reasonably good health. I don’t take any medication. My BP is slightly elevated but my cholesterol is less than 150.

Last year during my annual the doctor measured my waist. Obviously she used a metric tape because my waist has never been that big. My BP was up a bit but not enough to warrant medication.

The killer was when she wrote “obesity” in my chart.

I decided then to change my lifestyle. Kohl’s had a sale on walking (and running) shoes so I bought two pair.

A few months before my physical I had a kidney stone. The ER doc that treated me said I didn’t drink enough water.

So now I am drinking more water daily and walking. My goal is to walk 4 miles a day for 5 days.

Most weeks I do that.

A few months ago I had another physical. My weight was down by 8 pounds and my BP dropped to a more acceptable 128/86.

Walking works.

 

Walking reduces stress

Having spent 40 years in the health insurance business, I needed to slow down a bit and find something less stressful. Most of my regular health insurance clients had to drop their coverage because they could not afford the higher Obamacare rates. To offset the lost income I migrated toward the Medicare market about 4 years ago. In September of this year when it is my time to join my other boomer’s and go on Medicare I needed to know what to expect. walking 1

What I have found is, most people my age were just as confused as I was and they hadn’t worked in the health insurance market all their life like I had.

Changing my focus to Medicare only has helped, but during the Medicare season known as annual enrollment was almost too much. I was winding down my existing under age 65 client block and helping them one last time while at the same time trying to increase my number of Medicare clients.

Getting out an walking for 75 minutes or so helped my attitude tremendously. Some days I would leave the house at 5:30 AM while others it would be noon. And some days I would begin my walk around 4:00 PM.

Walking that 4 mile loop around my neighborhood not only reduced my stress levels but helped to drop my BP as well.

A recent article published by Everybody Walk has this to say.

  • Put your brain in a meditative state
  • Outdoor activity reduces stress
  • Boost endorphins
  • Socialize while walking
  • Boost energy and reduce fatigue

Hard to argue with any of those.

 

Reverse medical conditions

Many afflictions are lifestyle related. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, anxiety and type II diabetes are all conditions that may be caused by lifestyle but can also be reversed.

My own drop in BP can be tied to walking and increased water intake.

According to the American Heart Association, walking for 30 minutes a day has this effect

  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
  • Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Improve blood lipid profile
  • Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
  • Enhance mental well being
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduce the risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes

Maybe you are not at risk for any of the above and that is good news. But that is not a reason to ignore the health benefits of preventing or even reversing the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

Type II diabetes is a common chronic condition in retirees and is a costly illness to treat, especially if you have complications. I have diabetic clients and some of them are spending $500/month and up on medication. What a tremendous savings they could realize by walking just 30 minutes a day.

 

Improved sleeping

As we age our body changes and one area that is impacted as much, if not more, is quality sleep time. Walking, especially in the evening before bed can relax your body and help you have a more restful night.

You can also benefit from walking earlier in the day so if night time is not convenient for you go when you can and start sleeping better.

 

Laundry list of benefits

If you do enough research you can probably come up with 100 or more reasons to walk. The folks at Tesco Living summarized these 10 points.

  • Strengthen your heart
  • Lower risk of disease
  • Weight control
  • Prevent dementia
  • and osteoporosis
  • Tones your body
  • including your arms
  • Boosts vitamin D levels
  • Gives you energy
  • Makes you happy

Who doesn’t want to be happy?

 

Additional reading

Still not convinced of the benefits of Walking?

Check out these dozen+ articles on Medicinenet

 

Closing thoughts

Get moving and enjoy your days. Walk outdoors or inside. Many malls open early in the morning for “mall walkers”. It’s a good time to socialize and avoid the crowds.

Senior centers in many areas are available at no charge or reduced rates. Some have walking tracks, swimming pools and exercise classes.

A few Medicare supplement carriers include Silver Sneakers membership as part of their “package”. Georgaetna medicareia carriers that include Silver Sneakers are Blue Cross, Humana and the AARP brand of United Healthcare.

Of course their Medigap rates are usually higher than comparable plans that don’t include Silver Sneakers. We recently added Aetna to our mix of carriers. They have competitive Medigap rates but don’t have Silver Sneakers.

With more than 170 different Medigap plans in Georgia, how do you find the right one? We can help. Shop and compare plans on your own but don’t hesitate to ask for help.

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

Georgia Medigap plans & Prices

 

#walking #Medicare #diabetes #highbloodpressure #cholesterol #Aetna

 

 

Should All Diabetics Take Cholesterol Medication?

Are you a diabetic with high cholesterol? Should you take a statin drug? Are you at risk for heart disease? How much should you expect to pay for your diabetic medications? bob on fb

Georgia Medicare Plans feels that retirees on Medicare need good information to maintain their physical and financial health. Free Medicare Part D review, free instant Medigap quotes and access to our most popular report “Medicare and Social Security” are just a few of the valuable services we provide.

This report has been viewed and shared over 1,000 times in the last few months.

 

Diabetic and High Cholesterol

Many diabetics also battle high cholesterol, but are statins the treatment of choice?

New guidelines from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) call for giving the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins to all people with diabetes to help prevent heart disease.

Health Day

But are diabetics at any higher risk for heart disease than anyone else with high cholesterol?

According to Dr. Richard Grant, not necessarily.

“We agree that the decision to start a statin should be based on a patient’s risk,” said Dr. Richard Grant, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and chairman of the ADA’s professional practice committee.

“It turns out that patients with diabetes have the same risk as people with heart disease, so all of our patients need to be on statins,” he said.

But are statins the only way, or even the best way to treat cholesterol?

According to  Dr. Grant, some diabetics may not need statins. Younger, healthier patients and older patients with other medical conditions may not benefit from statins.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of people with diabetes, Grant said. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people without diabetes, he said.

The increased risk of heart disease in people with diabetes is what was behind the rationale for this year’s recommendations on statins, blood pressure and exercise, according to Grant.

Many people can control their blood pressure and cholesterol with diet and exercise alone. But some people, such as my wife, have high cholesterol as part of their genetic make up. No matter how much she exercises or how closely she watches her diet, she cannot get her cholesterol below 240.

She does take Red Yeast Rice (a natural statin) and fish oil at the suggestion of her doctor. This seems to help but she can’t overcome the genetics.

 

Diabetic medications

Treating chronic illnesses can be very costly for retirees. Georgia Medicare Plans works closely with their clients to help them find ways to save money while treating their diabetic condition.

Many type II diabetics can fill their metformin prescription at no charge at select pharmacy’s. Some diabetic supplies (including insulin) are covered under Medicare Part B. A good Medigap plan combined with original Medicare can save you several hundred dollars per year in out of pocket costs.

georgia-medigap-button

 

Medigap carriers will issue coverage to most type II diabetics (as long as you do not have complications associated with the disease) and some type I diabetics. You may even qualify for standard rates.

Switching from brand name drugs can save you anywhere from a few hundred dollars a year to several thousand dollars.

One such example is Glucophage (brand) vs metformin (generic). Most drug plans will not cover a brand name drug if a generic alternative exists. Glucophage will cost you over $1,000 per year at retail with a Medicare Part D plan. Switching to metformin lowers your cost to less than $150 per year and some pharmacy’s make metformin available at no cost.

Actos is another popular diabetic medication. If you are taking Actos and pick a low cost ($15) drug plan from Humana your annual cost for the medication will exceed $6,000 per year. Switching to a more expensive ($70) drug plan will drop your drug costs to $3,000 per year.

While these savings are significant, changing from Actos (brand) to pioglitazone (generic) will not only allow you to pick a lower premium drug plan ($15) but more importantly lowers your annual drug costs to a more respectable $300 per year.

Most agents are willing to help you find ways to save money on your Medicare supplement coverage but few are willing to explore savings on drug plans. We find that most of our clients who bought drug plans without any help are paying more than they need to both in premiums and out of pocket drug costs.

We save our clients $550 per year or more on their Medigap premiums but the savings exceeds $1000 per year on drug costs.

Recently we reviewed drug coverage for one of our clients. They were paying $115 per month for a drug plan and spending $13,000 per year for their medications. A 30 minute review showed them how to cut their premium in half and drop their drug costs to $6,000 per year.

You don’t have to be a diabetic to realize these kind of savings. Your path to saving money begins with a free Georgia Medicare Plan quote.

medicareshopcompare2 (1)

 

#diabetic #Medicare #cholesterol #MedicarePartD

Diabetic Supplies Covered by Medicare?

Diabetic supplies and insulin covered by Medicare? Many Georgia seniors need to know what Medicare pays for diabetic supplies if you have diabetes.

Medicare will cover up to 2 fasting glucose tolerance tests per year.

You do not have to be diagnosed with diabetes to qualify for these tests. If you have any of the following risk factors you may qualify for testing under Medicare guidelines.

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol or triglyceride readings
  • obesity
  • history of high glucose levels in your blood or urine

If you have original Medicare you pay nothing for these tests if you doctor accepts Medicare assignment.

Diabetic Supplies Covered by Medicare

Some diabetic supplies are covered by Medicare Part B and your Medigap plan. Items covered by Medicare Part B include:

  • diabetic supplies for testing blood sugar
  • glucose testing monitors and strips
  • lancets
  • therapeutic shoes (in some cases)

In most cases diabetic insulin pumps as well as the insulin is covered under Medicare Part B. In some cases Medicare Part B may cover nutritional therapy if you have diabetes.

If you do not have an insulin pump, inject-able insulin is covered by Medicare Part D.

For more details on which diabetic supplies are covered by Medicare you can download and review the guide to Medicare Coverage of Diabetes Supplies and Services.

Georgia Medicare Plans offers affordable Medigap quotes for GA seniors. Instant online quotes. Personalized proposal and consultation at no charge.

 

Government Diabetes Study

Aggressive Diabetes Therapy May Raise Death Risk

Study Shows Intensive Treatment to Lower Blood Sugar Is Linked to Increased Risk of Death
By Salynn Boyles
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

insulin iv

March 2, 2011 — New results from a large government-run trial confirm that very aggressive treatment to lower blood sugar is associated with an increased risk of death in people with type 2 at high risk for heart attack and stroke.

The five-year follow-up from the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) study confirms findings that ended the trial’s aggressive blood sugar control arm due to safety concerns.

The study was designed to determine if intensive blood sugar, blood pressure, or cholesterol lowering with intensive treatment would improve outcomes and reduce deaths among people with type 2 diabetes with heart disease or multiple cardiovascular risk factors.

In February 2008, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) announced that the intensive blood sugar lowering arm of the study would be halted 18 months early after investigators reported an increase in deaths among patients in the aggressive treatment group.

Various diabetes drugs were used to lower blood sugar in the trial. The higher death rate in the tight control arm was not blamed on any single treatment.

FDA Drug Restrictions

Last fall, the FDA announced tight restrictions on GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone), citing an elevated risk of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths among users.

ACCORD investigator William T. Friedewald, MD, of Columbia University, tells WebMD that even though Avandia was a treatment option in the study, there is no evidence that it was responsible for the increase in heart-related deaths.

“As you can imagine, we looked at this very carefully, but there was nothing that suggested any increase in mortality or any other end point that was specific to this drug,” he says.

In fact, the analysis failed to identify any single diabetes drug or drug combination that explained the excess in deaths among the most aggressively treated patients.

American Diabetes Association Chief Science and Medical Officer David M. Kendall, MD, who was a study investigator, says an analysis of the data suggests patients who failed to respond to very aggressive treatment had the greatest risk of dying.

“What we don’t know is if they were at higher risk because of the intensive treatment or if there was something else that made them harder to treat,” Kendall says.

5-Year Follow-up Confirms Risk

A total of 10,251 high-risk patients were originally enrolled in the ACCORD study.

The targeted blood sugar level in the intensive glucose lowering arm was less than 6% hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), while the target for the standard treatment arm was 7% to 7.9% HbA1c.

Over an average of three-and-a-half years of treatment, 257 deaths occurred in the intensive therapy group, compared to 203 deaths in the standard treatment group, representing three additional deaths per 1,000 people treated each year.

The newly reported findings, published March 3 in the New England Journal of Medicine, extend the follow-up to five years.

Study co-investigator Robert Byington, MD, of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, tells WebMD that the longer follow-up confirms the earlier mortality picture.

“There was the possibility that the mortality difference might go away with more follow-up, but that is not what we found,” he says.

The researchers conclude that intensive treatment to reduce blood sugar to below 6% HbA1c cannot be recommended for patients with type 2 diabetes who have a high risk for heart attack and stroke.

Kendall says the recommendation agrees with current American Diabetes Association treatment guidelines.

“Achieving (hemoglobin A1c) levels in the 7% range provides significant protection for the eyes, the nerves, and the kidneys, but going lower does not seem to add additional benefits in terms of cardiovascular risk,” he says.

http://diabetes.webmd.com/news/20110302/aggressive-diabetes-threapy-may-raise-death-risk?src=RSS_PUBLIC